From the inception of what would be defined as "heavy metal" and the subsequent strains of what has become the most vital and visceral brand of music on the planet, there have been innovators who have moved things forward with urgent and confident persuasion. Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, The Big 4 (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax), Morbid Angel, Meshuggah, Emperor, Cannibal Corpse et al -- They are the type of driven alchemists who weren't satisfied with regurgitating the status quo.
With furious determination and relentless intolerance for mediocrity, Suicide Silence has arisen as one such band. In point of fact, as a new wave of heavy metal led by a fresh group of elite artists with specific sounds has awakened in America, Suicide Silence has earned the title as nothing less than the defining modern death metal band for a new generation.
The sound that thunder and lightning makes is very specific to that natural event. Similarly, the abrasive yet award-winning subcultural powerhouse known as Suicide Silence has undeniably claimed the sound they've put forth with their newest effort, The Black Crown.
"No imitators, no second guessing. I want it to be known," declares vocalist Mitch Lucker. "It's the same thing as when you pop in a Korn, Deftones, or Slipknot CD: you know that stamp is there."
Suicide Silence has that stamp, that signature. They've reached for the crown, seized it and placed it firmly atop their heads as a dominating force with worldwide reach across their prior albums and EPs. They've earned two consecutive Revolver Golden Gods Awards, for Most Innovative Band and Best New Band; conquered the stage on Rockstar Mayhem, Warped Tour, Music As A Weapon; graced magazine covers; and watched their logo spread across small towns and big cities around the globe as it's worn proudly like a national flag by their supporters.
Suicide Silence has set out to demolish their well-received previous efforts, the genre-defining The Cleansing (2007) and billboard rising No Time to Bleed (2009), with their raw, devastating and unstoppably aggressive new album. Lucker's blend of devastating growls and ear-piercing, black metal shrieks have hit an apex on The Black Crown and similarly, guitarists Mark Heylmun and Chris Garza have stepped up their game with carefully crafted, groove-laden riffs that will infect the minds of casual listeners. Drummer Alex Lopez has proven himself amongst the top in the genre, locking in on all cylinders with bassist Dan Kenny.
"The Black Crown is us at our finest," Lucker states. "We learned while touring on the last two records, the parts we play live that make people go the most insane; when we see thousands of people ripping each others' faces off to and just destroying each other. We took the most aggressive elements of the last two records and just compiled them all into pure brutality this time around."
There is no room to breathe on The Black Crown. And that was by design.
"This record just attacks, attacks, attacks," Lucker says proudly. "You're jumping up and down, or you're smashing something, or you're stomping something. It's simply unrelenting."
The band's sound is the product of extreme focus on the magic of five guys getting in a room with no pretensions, no computerized copouts and an agreement to keep the riffs that move them in the moment. "If we wrote it and I can bang my head to it, that's it, end of sentence," Lucker explains. "A lot of bands go out of their way to over-critique or over-develop their music to the point where it becomes drained of substance and simply feels like more of the same."
Suicide Silence spent a month snowed in at a cabin in the semi-remote town of Big Bear, California as they pushed themselves to deliver their strongest material to date. They knew this was to be a career-defining album so they seized the moment with their eyes on the prize. Plenty of metal bands are just pushing buttons on a laptop these days. Not them.
"That's artificial, that's not a band. That's not real to us," Lucker declares. "We're five dudes that pick up instruments and jam together as a whole. It's organic. It's real."
Steve Evetts (Dillinger Escape Plan, Sepultura) is a producer unafraid to adhere to a more old-school, organic approach to performances and tones which paid off here in spades. Zeuss (Hatebreed, Chimaira) came onboard as mixer. The collaboration was explosive.
"The combination had never been done before and it was proven to be exactly what we needed. We were able to completely capitalize on our sound. Those two helped us to make a phenomenal sounding record."
With cover artwork by Ken "K3N" Adams (Lamb Of God, Coheed and Cambria), Suicide Silence's The Black Crown makes a visually striking impression that serves as an invitation to the pummeling sound found within. With some three-hundred plus shows per year, Suicide Silence knows how to give "one hundred and ten percent" on all fronts. They are no overnight sensation, no "scene hype band." They have proven to be the real deal.
"I want to keep kicking doors down and breaking boundaries," Lucker promises. "Heavy metal has always been around and heavy metal will always be around. It's not going anywhere and as long as we're capable, we're going to keep creating heavy, heavy, heavy amazing sounding music."
The Black Crown sold over 14,400 copies during the first week of its release in the US alone, leading to its debut at position number 28 on the Billboard 200 chart. The band have since headlined the sold-out "Never Say Die Tour" throughout Europe/UK and are supporting Machine Head's US tour in early 2012.
Since the release of his major label debut 31 Minutes To Takeoff in August of 2010, Southland, MI native Mike Posner has gained nationwide critical praise from the album's three smash singles, the multi-platinum breakout hit "Cooler Than Me" and his top 10 follow up "Please Don't Go" and "Bow Chicka Wow Wow," which featured Lil' Wayne. The album's success also gained the hip-hop superstar an American Music Award nomination for Breakthrough Artist as well as nationwide television appearances on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest, America's Got Talent, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Live! With Regis & Kelly and The Wendy Williams Show.
Posner's first mixtape A Matter of Time, which he recorded in his dorm room, rose to the #1 position on iTunesU, promptly garnering him the attention of major labels. After signing a deal with RCA Records that summer, Posner returned to Duke to finish up his course load, all the while beginning work on his debut album and self-releasing his second free mixtape One Foot Out The Door (featuring collaborations with 3Oh!3, Bun B, Kid Cudi, Wale) through iTunesU and rocking shows every weekend at colleges and festivals across the country. He graduated from Duke University in May 2010 with a BA in Sociology and Business.
On November 20th 2011, the singer, songwriter and producer made a strong return to the mixtape world with the independent release of The Layover which includes Posner's cover of Oasis' "Wonderwall." The song's music video has gone viral since its November release. Posner is set to release his highly anticipated sophomore album, Sky High in early 2012. The album's first single, "Looks Like Sex," released digitally on December 6th, 2011 and has since gained critical praise.
NEVER SHOUT NEVER
Never Shout Never has been reborn. While the moniker has long referred to 20-year-old Christofer Drew, it is now the name of a full band with the messy-haired singer-songwriter at its helm – and the change couldn't have come at a better time.
With six EPs and two albums under his belt, over 2.5 million Facebook fans, nearly 50 million MySpace profile views and over 157 million song plays, it's clear that Drew has achieved breakthrough success since his first upload. However, the talented guitarist experienced some dark moments following the release of his Butch Vig-produced album, Harmony, becoming "a little bitter towards the music industry" and left shaken by the breakup from his girlfriend of almost two years. But, through his search for a higher consciousness, he found a path of enlightenment that led to a whole new outlook on music and life.
In an almost therapeutic way, Drew has woven his experiences into Time Travel, the first album recorded and produced by Never Shout Never, which now includes Drew, Caleb Denison (guitar/drums/percussion), Taylor MacFee (bass) and Hayden Kaiser (guitar, percussion). The band members, who each contributed backing vocals on the full-length, holed up in Springfield, MO, just one hour outside of their hometown of Joplin, and dedicated themselves to making Never Shout Never's most impressive album to date.
"It's kind of been a long time coming," Drew says. "I've always wanted Never Shout to be a band, but I've always had other people telling me that it's my thing and I need to keep taking pictures by myself and stuff. But I'm at a point now where I found my core group of guys, and I would much rather go in with this new fresh outlook and as a group instead of focusing all on me. It's going to be awesome having personalities in the group, because we're all such different people, but at the same time, we all stand for and represent the same thing."
Time Travel embodies a lush sound with fuller instrumentation, and, as Drew explains, the songs have a more experimental quality. "I wanted to make this album more of a little concept," he says. "I just wanted it to be different than anything that we've done; I wanted it to be a little more trippy. I've always thought that it would be awesome to travel through time. I watch a lot of the History channel."
Part of the album's "trippy" nature comes from Drew's newfound affinity for dance and meditation music. "For a while, I was kind of getting pretentious about the whole music thing," he laments. "I was only listening to Dylan and like pre-‘70s kind of stuff, and I thought anything else was kind of bullshit, but I got my eyes opened up. I went on a trip out to California for a month and got super into the rave scene, and understood that there's more to life than pretending to be Bob Dylan. I learned a lot about myself."
Although many changes are happening in Drew's life, fans will undoubtedly follow their fearless leader in whichever direction he takes. Since the age of 16, audiences have watched him grow from a one-man show to a far-reaching phenomenon. To what does the tattooed rocker attribute his success? Simply being himself. "I've just been really genuine with everyone," he explains. "Even when I was at my darkest places, I still tried to be super genuine. I think people appreciate that it's been about real music and true expression."
This LP, or "rebirth album," as Drew likes to call it, kicks off with the epic title track, which was most inspired by Drew's new-age influences. "Silver Ecstasy" was written by Denison, and is the first song on a Never Shout Never album that was not penned by Drew. "Getaway," he says, is about "diving into a daydream with her and leaving it all behind for a little bit," and was inspired by the stresses and drama of Drew's breakup. "Robots" also focuses on a girl, but in this song, Drew is numb to her. "It's just about being emotionless," he says.
"Lost at Sea" is the album closer, which Drew wrote when he was having a "mental breakdown." He explains, "I was home alone; no one was around. I didn't know what else to do, so I grabbed my guitar and wrote this song. Whenever I say ‘lost at sea,' it's a metaphor for when I lose my mind. Like, if I lose my mind and never come back the same tell everyone that I'll miss them, but I had to go. Pretty depressing, but at the same time a pretty cool tune."
Since his last record, Drew has matured and been able to tap into a self-awareness that has ultimately helped him deal with his inner conflicts. "I've had this weird thing where I've almost dreaded success because I felt undeserving deep in my subconscious, but now I'm to this point where I'm accepting success and prepared for it, and I don't think I've felt that before," he reveals. "And whatever happens, happens. I just want to be genuine and stand for a normal dude in the industry and not let it get to me."
As for the future, Never Should Never simply want to continue making records, playing live shows, experimenting with sound and "hopefully let people know that we're here to have fun with music, not just to make money." Drew adds, "We want to go at it like the same way that Queen did – just awesome experimental records, but making some great hits at the same time. We don't want to have any limits."
Christofer Drew and Never Shout Never continue to help raise money for their hometown of Joplin, MO which was devastated by tornados in late May. Christofer put together a campaign with the United Way in hopes to raise $1 million for Joplin. Text "JOMO" to 50555 to donate $10 to the immediate and long-term relief of Joplin, MO and watch the video of the destruction Chris put together himself, which also contains a clip of "Time Travel."
FOREVER CAME CALLING
Forever Came Calling is a three piece pop-punk band from 29 Palms, Calif. Formed in the spring of 2008, the band started touring in their region within the first three months of their inception. They self released the e.p "HopE.Passion" in February 2010 and started gathering local and regional buzz. This recognition was enough for the band to start touring further from home then they had ever been.
In the summer of 2010, FCC decided to see how far across the country they could get by just getting people to listen to their music. They piled in a van and headed out to follow The Vans Warped Tour. They pounded pavement all summer and made it across the country and back. The work ethic they put in was even noted by Warped Tour creator, Kevin Lyman and he put FCC on the San Diego date of the tour playing the Kevin Says stage. They rounded out the summer, fall, and winter with West Coast and Southwest tours, even getting into British Columbia, all with no label support.
FCC set out on their first full US tour with Handguns in January 2011. They have stayed on the road full time with their hardcore D.I.Y. work ethic firmly planted in their bones. In June, Jake Round of Pure Noise Records took notice of the band's ethic and signed them on. On November 8th, 2011 FCC had their first label release. It is a split record with their friends and tour mates, Handguns. The split has received a lot of online attention and praise, with both AbsolutePunk and Alternative Press taking note saying "Forever Came Calling is THE band to watch"
Forever Came Calling is making 2012 their year.